It’s been a busy two weeks in Pamplona.
Last week we visited Olite, located about an hour south of Pamplona, where we did a wine tasting at the Ochoa Winery and toured the Palacio Real. The medieval town surrounding the palace was beautiful and quaint, and the palace itself was ginormous. We spent almost an hour walking through its sprawling halls, and enjoyed the gorgeous views of the town below from its many towers.
We also participated in our first Juevinxtos (Jueves=Thursday + vino=wine + pintxos) Thursday is the best going-out night in Pamplona, and in typical Spanish fashion, the clubs don’t get busy until 2 or 3 am, and people don’t return home until around 7 am! It was very cool to see the bars and the discotecas at their most vibrant states.
One day, instead of holding class, our professors took us to the city center for a pinxto tour. After watching a performance of “Flamenco on Fire” in front of the Ayuntamiento, we were tasked with going to different pinxto bars and interviewing as many waiters, bartenders, and customers as we could find about the historical and cultural significance of pintxos to Pamplona. Despite our good intentions, most people did not want to be recorded/have anything to do with us (oh well!) A few people were very friendly, though. One particularly spirited man, when asked about the difference between “pintxos” and “tapas,” very sternly said, “People eat tapas in Spain. This is not Spain.” He later told us that he was born and raised somewhere in the Basque Country—which is very close to Pamplona/Navarra and has its own, very distinct language— It’s funny to see that no matter what country you’re in, there are rivalries and even serious tensions between different regions (not just in America, haha!!)
Last Saturday we went to Zarautz, and we spent the entire day at the beach. The waves were the biggest and most intense waves I have ever experienced. Ironically, it was one of the few moments in the last few weeks that I was able to actually slow down and fully appreciate how lucky I am to have the opportunity to study abroad in Spain. There were six of us, and we were getting knocked down by every single wave and then hitting each other, kicking each other, and rolling on top of each other underwater. When we finally came up again, banged up and with salt water in our eyes, noses, and mouths, we had a split second to breathe and make sure everyone was okay before we were submerged again. It was terrifying and physically exhausting, but it was in those absurd, coming-up-for-air moments that I felt more present, even more connected to the people around me, and even more appreciative of all the little moments of joy Spain has offered us so far. It was exhilarating, and we stayed in the water for hours.
Pamplona has allowed me to adjust to living in Spain, get used to speaking Spanish 24/7, try new things, and meet so many amazing people. Muchas gracias por todo, Pamplona! Next stop, A Coruña!